In case you didn’t know, both HTTP and HTTPS are short for protocols that are designed to transfer information between computers and servers over the world wide web (WWW). However, the main difference of these two protocols is not only the ‘S’ at the end found in HTTPS. There is a deeper meaning to it.
Basically, HTTP stands for Hyper Text Transfer Protocol, which is essentially the same thing like HTTPS in terms of function. Speaking of which, both of these protocols are aimed on transferring information like documents, files, images and videos between computers over the Internet.
In the beginning, networks were designed in a simpler way then nowadays. Usernames, passwords, credit cards and sensitive information was not meant to be online for the time being. However, that changed quickly – introducing us to one more protocol than the standard HTTP – the HTTPS (Hyper Text Protocol Secure).
Simply put, the HTTPS protocol sends this particular information over encrypted connection, which actually makes it more secure and impossible to break. In case you don’t know, encrypting data means converting it into a code in order to prevent unauthorized access to it.
In practice, pages that demand sensitive data from you – like passwords, usernames, credit cards and other payment processors – should always operate on HTTPS protocols in order to keep your information safe and unable to be stolen. Using HTTPS does exactly that, agreeing on a ‘code’ between the transfer of information, so that no one can read or steal it.
As you’d probably guess, HTTP is platform independent and can be used over firewall connections. It is a protocol that is not connection oriented and there is no network overhead to create and maintain the session state and information. However, the main drawback of HTTP is related to the security concerns – one that HTTPS instantly solves with its encryption.
On the other hand, HTTPS offers a lot more than safety – it also comes with extended privacy, integrity and authentication, which are all missing in the HTTP based connection. Although more complicated, it prevents stealing information and is therefore a standard that every (information-sensitive) website must adhere to nowadays.
The increase in speed for https is also quite significant with a faster loading speed. Feel free to test this out yourself with this https speed test tool.
In 2014 Google had already stated that HTTPS is a SEO ranking signal but does not count as strong as having quality content on your website.
It has been confirmed by companies such as MOZ that HTTPS is becoming more and more an important ranking signal.